Te Kooti’s Lookout, Saturday, December 3 2011
History: Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki
Māori resistance leader Te Kooti sheltered in the upper Mōhaka area between 1871 and 1872. He spent time on the Tataraakina peak at the junction of the Te Hoe and Mōhaka rivers, which is also known as ‘Te Kooti’s Lookout’.
We headed up the Wairoa road, over the new Matahora bridge and turned off into Willowflat Road. We stopped at the Willowflat settlement and at the old schoolhouse buildings we met Kevin Frances, who was in charge of the accommodation. Ray decided to stay behind to relax and keep topping up the chip burner for our hot water.
We drove further on with an escort and parked near the stock yards, then headed off down the farm track to the Honeymooner’s Cottage. Some posed for photos while in a romantic embrace! Further on, we walked passed a marker post depicting the water level for a proposed dam on the Te Hoe River from many years ago. We headed down through farmland to the Te Hoe River and crossed it without difficulty. There was a brief bush-bash up to metal road. Walking along it, we could hear gunshots nearby. As we got higher, we could see two guys on the road above who must have been shooting into a nearby gully. Onwards and around the corner, where we eventually headed up a spur which had been recently replanted with pine trees. A long time ago during the last visit, we had walked up this spur through mature pines.
When we got up above the forestry, we had to look around for the start of the track which was between the main spur and a smaller outcrop. From this point onwards, it was a steep climb. The track was overgrown through minimal usage, but it could still be picked out. We were mostly in bush on the way up but occasionally there were clear patches which enabled us to see out. At the top, there was a small clearing with a couple of poles nearby. A little further on, the top opened out into a clear area with good views just before the lookout started to drop away to the north. A good place for lunch.
The trip back down was a lot easier, with the track more obvious after a large group of people had been through. Eventually we got out into the recently planted pine trees. In this area, one person had both soles come off her boots. There was some attempt to tape them back on. This did not work, so she had to walk back without the soles. We headed back down to the Te Hoe and after crossing it, we split up. Some went back the same way as we came. Others returned via a zig-zag to the top of the hill, walking past Halliburton’s farmhouse and plenty of horses in adjacent paddocks and back past stock yards to where the vehicles were parked.
After changing, the van headed back to Napier and the weekenders returned to the school houses to have a hot shower, socialise, play with Ray’s skittles (specially imported from England) and enjoy the BBQ facilities. It was very pleasant, relaxing outdoors in the late afternoon sun. Our host, Kevin, joined us for a while.
The next day, we had a relaxed start with a cooked breakfast for some. We went for a walk down to the bridge and the river. The valley had interesting rocks with shell fossils embedded in them. We had another talk to our host, who had a large garden behind his house.
We stopped to view the Ross family memorial, before heading home.
Thanks to Sue Martin for organising the access and to Kevin Frances for accommodation.
Weekend: Ted, Paul, John M, Ray, Simon, Sue Marshall and Geoff Donkin
Day: Jenny Burns, Mark Marchal, Colin McNatty, Val McNatty, Denise Payne, John Russell, John Dobbs, Ken Ross, Alison Greer, Jude Paton, Sue Titter, Rosemary Jeffery, Les O’Shea, Matt Green, Sue Martin and Julia Mackie